This Re-engineered BMW G 650 Xchallenge is a Neo-Noir Dream
Old BMWs are popular choices for custom projects. Their simple layout makes it easy to swap out parts—without having to navigate modern components like fuel pumps or ABS sensors.
Modern BMWs though? Not so much. The BMW G650 Xchallenge is a prime example: everything fits together a certain way, with the fuel tank under the seat and the air box up top.
Changing it is less about customisation, and more about re-engineering. Not a problem for Jens Henkel of Hyde Designs. He’s transformed the rugged dual-sport into a neo-noir street machine, dubbed ‘Octavia.’
“I chose the G650 Xchallenge because I liked the swing arm, front frame section and the reliable Rotax engine,” he tells us.
As for the inspiration behind the design: “There is no deep and meaningful story behind the build of Octavia—other than to test abilities and to make something without referencing too much from existing designs.”
Henkel had the entire project sketched out even before he had a suitable donor in his hands. When he eventually found one, it was, thankfully, in good nick. “A good engine and mechanics gave me more time for aesthetics,” he says, “and saved me the stress of dealing with a lemon.”
Henkel’s vision for the Xchallenge was radically different from the stock bike. So all the plastic body panels—and the under-seat fuel tank—went in the bin.
A new tank, tail section and radiator housing were mocked up with cardboard, then replicated digitally with Google SketchUp. It took six cardboard mockups to get the tank just right, before Henkel turned to an engineering shop to cut and bend the sections. “Then I had an old-timer weld it up for me,” he says.
The tail section is all fibre-glass, shaped by Henkel himself. It houses the fuses, relays and diagnosis plug, and an integrated tail light. The lens is made from a two-part, super clear epoxy resin with a tinting agent, with internals from a sport-bike tail light.
The whole arrangement—along with a leather-covered seat—sits on a new, custom-made subframe. Up front are a set of clip-on bars, a custom speedo from SpeedHut in the USA, and a machined aluminium LED housing for the warning lights.
Henkel also ditched the Xchallenge’s stock, off-road sized wheels. He’s fitted a set of 17” Suzuki Bandit rims instead. The front suspension is stock, but lowered and refinished in black. A Showa rear shock’s been fitted, borrowed from a Honda.
Stealth Pipes in Pretoria handled the exhaust, with just the right amount of baffling to get a rich sound from the big single. A single K&N air filter’s been fitted in lieu of the air box. To keep things tidy, Henkel fitted a smaller radiator from a BMW K1200, held in a custom-made fibre-glass housing.
“The build took six months,” he tells us, “and was an entertaining experience figuring out all the elements, and then—the best part—all the small details.
The final livery is stealthy, broken only by the discreet BMW motorsport colours on the tank. We wouldn’t change a thing—other than the ownership title, perhaps.